Foreign-Born Entrepreneurs Have Created Million Of Jobs For Americans
What do you see when you read the word "immigrant"?
What do you hear when the dirty "i" word is mentioned in casual conversation?
Do images of Andy Grove, a founder of Intel, or Andrew Carnegie, the founder of Carnegie Steel (later to become U.S. Steel) flash across your mind?
The image of immigrants most have in mind is that of an invasion of foreigners coming to take jobs, to hoard entitlements, and to sap the "American" out of the "American way."
The image of waves of immigrants climbing over a southern border fence into America takes center stage in the November 2006 segment from “Lou Dobbs Tonight,” titled “The Cost of Illegal Immigration.”
That video has been viewed more than 276,000 times on YouTube.
It was part of a “Broken Borders” series of reports promoted by Dobbs and by CNN as an examination of America’s immigration issues. Night after night, month after month, the celebrity journalist pounded home the point that illegal immigrants were infesting America.
Against that backdrop, some people try to discuss how immigrants can turbocharge America's clean energy industries and create millions of new jobs for Americans; how immigrants can help American companies penetrate foreign markets (where 95% of the world's consumers live), increase sales, and create more jobs at home; how immigrants can help revive post-industrial, depopulating urban centers like Cleveland and Detroit, which have world-class infrastracture and amenities, but are ill-prepared for the New Economy and are dying on the vine.
Good luck having that conversation, while the other conversation (immigrants are destroying America, etc.) plays on ad nauseum.
Immigrants need an image-makeover to bring a more rational tone to the discussion about immigration and America's future.
All foreign-born who work hard, have a strong commitment to family and education, and contribute give America a competitive advantage.
Considering the entrepreneurial and innovative capacities that New Economy immigrants have, particularly as the U.S. seeks to counter the increasing competition from China & India, high-skill and entrepreneurial immigrants who create jobs and new industries for Americans should not be ignored or marginalized. Particularly in this economy.
What is missing is a new image, and a new conversation, about immigration ---- stories about the job-creators.
Here is one such story, "10 Stocks Launched by Immigrants," Money Magazine, July, 2009:
“But no matter where people stand on the immigration issue there is one thing that isn't up for debate: Foreign-born entrepreneurs have founded some of the nation’s biggest companies, and have been responsible for employing millions of Americans over the America," write Dan Burrows and Jason Kephart.
The article profiles 10 public companies started by immigrants, and lists the number of American jobs these companies currently have on payroll:
Intel: 44,000 jobs
Compared to those born in the U.S., immigrants are starting American businesses at twice the rate, according to a 2009 study by the Kauffman Foundation. The study also found that the rate of immigrant start-ups continues to climb, while the rate for American-born is relatively stagnant.
Despite comprising only 12% of the U.S. population, immigrants are increasingly earning a majority of advanced degrees from science and engineering departments at American universities.
Compared to those born in America, immigrants are filing U.S. patents at a rate of 2:1.
It is time that we begin to look at immigrants in a different way --- not as job-takers, but as job-creators.
As pioneers of the New Economy.
Maybe President Obama should ask Andy Grove, Sergey Brin, Vinod Khosla, Pierre Omidyar, Elon Musk and the other immigrant job creators and innovators, to stand with him on stage as he begins to make the case that America's future will follow its past---- in welcoming immigrant talent, innovation, entrepreneurship and investment.
This image of immigrant job-creators standing side-by-side with the President should help soften the image that many Americans have of immigrants. A broader education strategy should be employed to repeatedly convey this message.
Maybe instead of watching the "Lou Dobbs Tonight" video another hundred thousand times on YouTube, America can watch immigrant Steve Chen, the co-founder of YouTube, talk about why he loves America.
We need a new way to look at immigrants.
America’s economic and national security depends on it.
Richard Herman is a Cleveland immigration lawyer, high-skill immigration activist, blogger at www.immigrantinc.com and co-author of Immigrant, Inc. --- Why Immigrant Entrepreneurs Are Driving the New Economy (and how they will save the American worker) (John Wiley & Son, October, 2009). For a pre-release discount on book, see http://amzn.com/0470455713. Herman is a co-author of the High Skill Immigration Policy adopted by 30 Chambers of Commerce in the Great Lakes Region: http://www.scribd.com/doc/15770622/Metrochambersimmigrationstimulus. Herman sits on the board of advisors to Global Detroit, a new project funded by The New Economy Initiative (a $100 million economic development fund in SE Michigan), the Skillman Foundation, and the Greater Detroit Chamber of Commerce that is exploring immigration-based economic development strategies to help revitalize Detroit.
The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of ILW.COM.